FROM the evidence which we have given from the record made by the N. W. C. T. U., it is certain that “the usual exemption for those who keep the Sabbath day,” from the requirements of Sunday laws, which the Union “favors,” does not exempt. That is to say, “the usual exemption” is so hedged about with restrictions that it is robbed of all the quality of an exemption.
In order for any person to have the benefit of this “usual exemption,” it is not enough to observe another day, but the person observing another day must “believe in” it.
Nor is it enough to “believe in” and “observe” another day; but the person observing another day must “conscientiously believe in” it.
And when a person does conscientiously believe in and observe another day than Sunday as the Sabbath, still the exemption does not count unless the person “religiously” observes the day that he conscientiously believes in and observes.
And when he “religiously” observes the day that he “conscientiously believes in and observes,” still the exemption does not count unless he “regularly” observes the day that he conscientiously believes in and religiously observes.
And then the exemption does not count unless the “religious” and “regular” observance of this day that he “conscientiously believes in” and “observes, “is performed” by abstaining from labor and business.”
And even THEN the exemption does not count unless the work that he does on Sunday is work of “religion,” or work of “real necessity and mercy,” or “such private work as will neither interfere with the general rest nor with public worship.”
That is to say that “the usual exemption” requires belief, and even conscientious belief; and religious action, and regular religious action, on whatever day a man may choose to observe as the Sabbath; and also requires religious conduct, both public and private, on Sunday, or else the exemption does not count.
And even with all this, the “usual exemption” does not exempt from the requirements of the law, but only from the penalty of the law.
This is certain, and we know it, from the fact that Mrs. Bateham, speaking for the N. W. C. T. U., said so at the great hearing on the national Sunday law, before the Senate Committee, in Washington, D. C., Dec. 13, 1888. Senator Blair had said to Mrs. Bateham these words:—
“Let me ask you a few questions, Mrs. Bateham, to see if the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union understood exactly the relation of what they propose to do to this legislation.”
He then stated that an exemption of the observers of another day would allow these observers of another day to do the work of the post-offices, and that of such other occupations as the Sunday law was intended to prohibit, and thus the law would fail of its purpose in prohibiting these occupations on Sunday; that is, it would so fail by means of the very thing which they themselves propose—the exempting of observers of another day in hope of checking their opposition to the law. His remarks are summed up in the following sentences:—
“Now, you go to our Seventh day Baptist or Adventists friends, for instance, and propose to introduce a principle by which they can carry on the Post-Office Department on the Sabbath just as completely as they see fit. In other words, you propose to exempt them from the operation of the law so far as it prohibits post-office work on the Sabbath. Suppose you have a Seventh-day Baptist man for postmaster. Suppose you fill up every post-office in the country on the Sabbath, with Seventh-day Baptist people. You have the Post-Office Department in operation by virtue of this exemption because they can do the work conscientiously on that day.”
To this Mrs. Bateham made the following reply:—
“If you remember the clause, we do not propose to provide that they shall be able to do this work; but that they shall be exempt from the penalty. They are not allowed to do the work; but they are to be exempted from the penalty. Therefore, unless they could prove that they had not done this work to the disturbance of others, it would be impossible for them to carry on post-office matters, for instance, or any other public employment, on Sunday.”
If any further evidence is needed on this it is presented by Dr. W. F. Crafts himself in his Sabbath Reform Documents, No. 28, in which he says that “The only States that have just and practicable exceptions on this point [of ‘the usual exemption’] are New Jersey and Arkansas.” And then that all may know exactly what the only just and practicable exemption is he presents as the example the following exemption found in the code of New Jersey:—
“Every inhabitant of this State who religiously observes the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, shall be exempt from answering to any process in … or equity, either as defendant, witness, or juror, except in criminal cases; likewise from executing on the Sunday the duties of any post or office to which he may be appointed or commissioned, except when the interests of the State may absolutely require it, and shall also be exempt from working on the highways and doing any militia duty on that day except when in actual service. If any person, charged with having labored on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, shall be brought before a justice of the peace to answer the information in charge thereof, and shall then and there PROVE TO THE SATISFACTION OF THE SAID JUSTICE if he or she uniformly keeps the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, and habitually abstains from following his or her usual occupation or business, and from its recreation, and devotes the day to the exercises of religious worship, then such defendant shall be discharged PROVIDED ALWAYS, that the work of labor for which such person is informed against, was done and performed by his third dwelling-house or work-shop, or on his or her premises or plantation, and that such work or labor has not disturbed other persons in the observance of the first day of the week as the Sabbath; and provided also, that nothing in this section shall be construed to allow any such person to openly expose to sale any goods, wares, or merchandise, or other article or that whatsoever in the light of his or her business or occupation.”
That is say that by “the usual exemption of those who observe the Sabbath day,” every person who observes any other day than Sunday, is subject to surveillance, to rest, and prosecution; and is thus subject to be put to all the expense, inconvenience, and that of a course the prosecution, up to the point where it is discovered that all the manifold restrictions of the exemption have been complied with—then, and only then, the penalty of the Sunday law shall not be applied in his case.
In other words, no one can be exempt from the requirements of the law; no one shall be allowed to do any work, either public or private, on Sunday, without being subject prosecution. But when the prosecution has been put through its full course, then he may be exempt from the penalty, provided he has fulfilled all the requirements of “the usual exemption,” which are that he shall “believe in,” and “conscientiously believe in,” and “conscientiously believe in” and “regularly” observe, and “conscientiously believe in” and “religiously” observe, another day than Sunday; and provided the work which was done was a “work of religion,” or a work of “real necessity and mercy or such private work as does neither interfere with the general rest or with public worship.”
This is also certain, because it is already a settled rule of the courts: that the burden of proof lies on him who claims exemption; and also because Mrs. Bateham, speaking for the N. W. C. T. U., said that “unless they could prove that the work had not been to the disturbance of others, it would be impossible for them” to have the benefit of the exemption.
And such is “the usual exemption for those who keep the Sabbath day.” By the official and representative statement of the N. W. C. T. U., we know that such is “the usual exemption for those who keep the Sabbath day.”
And that such is its exact operation was stated by Mrs. Tomlinson, in the late national convention at Seattle, and can be confirmed by the actual experience of nearly a hundred cases in the courts of several States within the last few years.
What, then, is “the usual exemption for those who keep the Sabbath day” worth, which the N. W. C. T. U. has put itself on record as favoring?—It is not worth paper that it is written on. It is a delusion and a snare to all who favor it.
We do not say that the women of the W. C. T. U. understand that all this is in the usual exemption; but that is exactly what is in it, whether they understand it not. And we write this simply that they and all may understand what is in it.